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ICYMI Susan Seaforth Hayes Interview

How has Julie changed over the decades? “Profoundly. Julie was adventurous and sexually uninhibited at a time when that was something new. That was the ’60s. She was the woman out there in the world that the homemaker was probably afraid of and wishes that she was more like. She has turned somewhat into her beloved grandmother, which is appropriate for her at this stage in life. She started a long way from being a Grandma Horton kind of person. She’s grown up a lot more than a lot of the characters, who don’t get to hang around as long as Julie has.”

Who was Julie’s role model? “At one point it looked like Elizabeth Taylor [laughs]. I had the dyed dark hair. I had a lot of men drifting through my life. I was in low-cut dresses and kind of hyper. So I would say that’s who maybe she thought she was.”

Were there any story turns that surprised you during your early years on the show? “I was surprised when Julie’s son [David] went away to summer camp and was played by a 10-year-old and came home a 6-foot-4 blond and an unhappy adolescent with a sex life and pimples. That seemed very jarring. I’m used to it now, but I was hurt. The head writer explained to me that I was just being … that I didn’t want to be in an older category, but had to get used to it. Now I realize that children don’t stay children on soap operas very long, because romance is what it’s all about. You have to go to the next generation’s romances as soon as possible.”

How did Julie’s nickname “Fair Lady” come about? “It came about from one of our writers who passed away, Bill Rega. Billy [Hayes, Doug] liked it. I liked it. Everybody seemed to like it. When Julie fell in love, she mellowed.”

Who is the love of Julie’s life? “Easy question. Doug, who also turned out to be the love of her whole life. He’s imaginative. He is a strong person. He accepts Julie. They have had ups and downs together, which tested each other’s commitment. He has a great heart. She’s not surprised that other women are delighted by him. That just adds to his glamour, as far as she’s concerned. They’ve built a very successful, honest relationship with each other.”

Has she ever had a best friend? “Alas, no. I would say she’s been somewhat adversarial with other women. That is a whole window, depending on who’s writing the show, that is either explored or not explored. We’ve had a long run of male writers who don’t necessarily go to their best buddies and talk it all over, as a woman would. If I had a bestie on the show, it would be Marlena.”

Who is Julie’s all-time nemesis? “It would have to be the DiMera family, who is not worth trusting, and their excessive number of children. I would love to have scenes with Thaao Penghlis [Tony]. To me he is the quintessential heir of [the late] Joe Mascolo [ex-Stefano]. He’s a wonderful actor, and I respect the way he lives his life. We crossed swords when he first came on the show. Years later, I can’t wait to see him walk down the hall at work. The idea of having scenes with him over some subject, any subject, would be wonderful.”

What are Julie’s strengths and weaknesses? “Her weakness is to be pretty realistic and jump to the negative conclusion, and therefore be a step ahead to take offense and action prematurely. She’s impetuous, probably because she’s been through a lot, although she hasn’t been kidnapped. She doesn’t have the long list of hanging off the edge of a cliff like some of our other leading ladies have, but she has had emotionally jarring, surprising and sad things happen. Consequently she is hyper-protective of her surviving family members, which is both a virtue and a vice. It’s the aunt that you can go to and tell everything to, but then the aunt is liable to do something without your permission. She’s that family member who seems to stir the pot. Her strength is that she has a rich imagination. She has a larger vocabulary than most people in Salem. She’s well-traveled. She’s been up and down in romance and doing what you have to do in order to get by. She has a lot of class, and, ultimately, as is true with all of us, realizes that the only thing that counts in the end is loving people and being there for them. That is her great virtue.”

Aside from Bill, what other leading man do you think you’ve had great chemistry with? “I loved working with Stephen Schnetzer [ex-Steve; ex-Cass, ANOTHER WORLD], when he was playing my brother. I continue to love working with Matthew Ashford [Jack]; when I play a scene with him, he really returns the ball.”

What about a leading man that you felt you have romantic chemistry with? “Well, there was [the late] Jed Allan [ex-Don]. Jed Allan made all the girls look good. Julie was considering marrying Don at one point. Was she going to marry him or was she going to marry Doug? That was one thing they spun for a while.”

Would you be friends with Julie? “I would be delighted to know her. She’s interesting. She reads the newspaper. She’s out there, and she has a nice earring collection and maybe she could lend me some [laughs]. She likes to travel, and she’s still sexually liberated. She’s just liberated for one guy. They’re still really enjoying their marriage.”

What advice would you give her? “To keep on keeping on. Life’s a banquet. Even with the unusual events in Salem, it’s still a banquet. It’s better to reach out and get involved than to watch the passing parade and say, ‘I’m too old. I’m too dried up.’ ”

If you could go back in time and change one decision that Julie made, what would it be? “It would be a Susan Hayes decision, and the decision is good advice, which is never ever disagree with the head writer. Because the head writer is the head writer, and [the repercussions] can be quite long-lasting.”

What were some of your favorite storyline moments? “The years when Doug and Julie as a team got involved in investigation and got in comedic trouble because of that. Bill does terrific dialects, and we had such fun. We were fun. We were interesting. We were more than just the couple who truly love each other, which is kind of a box that … It’s good to be known for something. And I’m grateful to be known as a loving wife with a long-lasting marriage. But why does it last? Well, because these people are fun, and they have fun with each other.”

What life event or events do you think most affected Julie? “When she was raped [by Larry Atwood], it affected her marriage and it affected her. Walking out on Doug affected her. Losing Doug to another woman and not being able to understand that she’d really done that herself for vanity. That was when he married Brenda Benet’s Lee. It was following the grease fire and being scarred. Julie was afraid to have anyone look at her and wound up living alone in her apartment with a plastic scar on her face. In that time period, she shut the door on Doug, who was more than happy to continue their relationship. He fell in with a woman who had been married to his twin. It was his brother’s widow and who was going to take care of her? It was a difficult time. For no reason that anybody could figure out, except my mother [Elizabeth Harrower, who was head-writing the show], Doug married this other woman. It was a fait accompli. Meanwhile, Julie went off and had plastic surgery, which was completely successful, and was stuck with having lost her husband. That was a big deal and wonderful stuff to play, because she created her own misery. Those were wonderful turning points for Julie and helped her to grow up and settle down.”

Is there one particular story from these investigative times that stands out? “With years gone by I can’t remember what it all led up to, but at one point we were trying to break a code. It turned out the code was just the Dewey Decimal System. At one point, it was tattooed on a belly dancer’s hip, and we were copying the code off the belly dancer’s hip. It was funny.”

Having been married a lot as Julie, do you have a favorite wedding? “I loved Doug and Julie’s second wedding outdoors. It was [on location] at Descanso Gardens. Billy sang ‘Till There Was You’. Patty Weaver [ex-Trish] sang ‘The Rose’, which was beautiful. And we recited poems that our family had written. Doug had Mickey recite a poem that was written by his grandfather. That was a very emotional wedding. Members of our own choir were in the audience. So when we all sang the hymns that we got to pick out, we got to sing them together. It was a wonderful day.”

What comment or question do fans ask you the most? “ ‘Why aren’t you on more? I love it when you’re on.’ ”

Me vs Her

What are the biggest personality differences between you and Julie? “I think Julie has more self-confidence.”

How does your marriage to Bill compare to Julie’s to Doug? “Ours is better, because it’s been uninterrupted. Ours is better because we are closer to our children than Doug and Julie are to Hope at this point. We’re there for each other every second, whatever’s required. Our marriage is better because I cook dinner every night. We don’t have to go to a restaurant. We have better food at our house than at the studio.”

Who has a better wardrobe? “Julie. She has a budget, and she has [Costume Designer] Richard Bloore buying for her. Lucky girl. He’s been a fountain of good taste and imagination. I just go out and buy another navy blue dress to go with the navy blue pants and the navy blue shoes and the navy blue purse and the navy blue scarf.”

Who has a better home? “Doug and Julie haven’t had Alice’s sofa, that uncomfortable sofa, re-covered since 1968. Our house is more fun, and we’re pretty comfortable. It’s more colorful and full of [pieces from] the places that we’ve been. Bill’s office is full of memorabilia of his life and pictures. The pantry is full of things from Italy and olive oil and wonderful china. The kitchen is full of paintings and silver. The dining room has a dining room set that we got on our honeymoon and statues from Egypt. The bedroom is full of wonderful paperweight glass balls that I collect. They look to me like the creation of the universe. I have 27 of them. There’s a little statuette of the Blessed Mother on one side of my bed, and right beside it is a nude picture of Billy that I took that shows you how I feel about love.”

Who gives better advice? “Possibly me. I just had the pleasure of giving a grandson some advice about how to talk to his mom about a little life-changing experience. Apparently he [took my advice] and things are working out. I was just over the moon about that.”